Between the Lines (Lindsay Ward)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Between the Lines by Lindsay Ward, a story about the importance of community.

In a vibrant, diverse city neighborhood, the young boy who serves as narrator remembers when the colors were swept away from their street. They began fading slowly; then, after a violent storm one night, the neighborhood awoke the next morning to find that all the color had washed away entirely, and a great rift in the street had divided it right through the center. Time passes, and the colors never return. The boys dreams of them, but they begin to fade even from his memories and dreams. Finally, the boy decides something must be done – and if no one else will do it, he’ll just have to do it himself.

Slightly vague but still beautiful. The metaphors that the absent colors represent may be a little dense for younger readers; it took me some pondering to arrive at what I think the fading/reappearing colors and the rift were supposed to represent, and I’m still not 100% sure. However, the greater themes of togetherness and teamwork are more readily understood, and still create a stirring story about how initiative and working together can heal problems within communities. The artwork shines, using the literal lack of color to great effect; for instance, a spread where the boy dreams of color after he (and the reader) have been deprived of it for so long is a powerful jolt. The length is great for a storytime, and JJ loved the intricate art and creative layouts, as well as the story’s message. This one is definitely worth the read; it may require a little consideration afterwards, but it’s a subject worth considering. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Rosie: Stronger Than Steel (Lindsay Ward)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Rosie: Stronger Than Steel by Lindsay Ward, a fantastic tale of one eager little tractor and the women and men she helped when they needed it most.

There’s a war going on, and people have donated their scrap metal to build machines to help the effort. Some of those scraps are melted down and used to build Rosie, a bright green tractor built under FDR’s Lend-Lease Act. The all-female riveters, welders, and machinists who built Rosie inspire her to a sense of purpose, and she emerges the factory with a rose painted on her hood and an oath to work as hard as she can. Shipped to England to assist the Women’s Land Army: a collective of women who left their homes to, like the factory workers, take up the necessary work left behind by the men. Rosie helps them plow, haul, harvest, anything she can do. Together, she and her new friends keep the farms running, not only until the war is over but long beyond.

Phenomenal. This historical, girl-power tractor story is filled with a stunning sense of history, community, and humanity. From the jump, Rosie introduces the reader to the incredibly strong women of WWII, and all the ways they helped the war effort when they could not fight. Rosie’s story of steadfast loyalty and tenacity also showcases human women building, fixing, digging, felling trees, and more. And the ending, in which Rosie’s decades of tireless service are rewarded and recognized, brought a tear to the eye. Ward’s illustrations are friendly yet dynamic, and give Rosie herself an impossible amount of charm. Backmatter provides context for Rosie’s world and more in-depth information on women’s war efforts. The length is perfect, and JJ and I both fell in love with strong, faithful Rosie by the end. A lovely tale to end Women’s History Month, and a reminder to us all that in tough times, our willingness to help others is our greatest strength. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

This Book Is Gray (Lindsay Ward)

Hello, friends! We’re back! The Baby Bookworm has moved houses, and we’re all set up in our new reading corner (though Mr. Dinosaur is still in a box somewhere, so he is still on hiatus). Our book today is This Book Is Gray by Lindsay Ward, a tale of individuality.

As the primary and secondary colors work together to build a colorful rainbow, Gray watches with envy. There’s no gray in the rainbow, after all, and he’s feeling left out. So Gray decides to make his own book, one with nothing but gray: a gray house on a foggy, overcast beach, and starring a cast of a wolf, a kitten, and a hippo. But just as he’s getting started, the primary colors burst in, followed closely by the secondaries, and begin picking apart Gray’s work. They declare the illustrations dismal, dark, and gloomy, and question whether the story will be a dark or sad one because of its look. Gray defends his work, but the others just keep talking over him. At last, his patience is lost; he yells at his friends, expressing his frustration and feelings of exclusion. The other colors, even fellow achromatics White and Black, are stunned, and decide to make Gray see that he is valued just as he is.

I liked the premise of this book a lot; any book that explores the values of different talents or aptitudes sends an important message to little readers. However, this left me with mixed feelings about the ending. Eventually, all the colors chip in on Gray’s book, “enhancing” his “GRAYtest book ever” with their own hues. But wait… wasn’t the point that Gray wanted a book that showcased gray all on its own? Without needing bright colors to have a happy or positive story? By adding the other colors to the mix, the lesson gets muddled; while the message about teamwork is admirable, it doesn’t mesh well with the earlier themes of individuality, and I was disappointed that Gray wasn’t allowed to be celebrated on his own merits. Still, JJ enjoyed the illustrations and the conversational text, especially each color’s distinct voice, and the length was fine. Rough around the edges, yet visually fun and worth a read. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Vacation For Dexter! (Lindsay Ward)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Vacation For Dexter! by Lindsay Ward, third in the delightful Dexter T. Rexter series.

Dexter (a high-energy and big-personality orange dinosaur toy) is back with his boy, Jack, for another adventure. This time, the two are going with Jack’s family on vacation! Loaded up in the car, Dexter is excited about all his vacation gear and the fun he and Jack will have; that is, until the car stops in front of the airport. Hang on – T-Rex arms are far too small to fly! Once on the plane, Dexter panics about the prospect of flying in his usual way: full-on meltdown of anxiety and nervous chatter. But when he looks up, he notices that Jack is looking pretty fearful too… which is all it takes for Dex to conquer his fears.

Encouraging and fun. As always, Dexter’s histrionics in the face of his fears are the comedic centerpiece, and they are still especially fun to read aloud in a panicked voice. Especially sweet here is the extended interaction between Jack and Dexter, and how Dex finds the strength to check his own fears in order to help deal with Jack’s. There’s also a nice subtext of getting over one’s anxieties about flying, nicely timed with spring and summer coming up. Ward’s illustrations, a mixture of paint, paper textures, and digital art is accessible and bright, and Dexter’s hilarious expressions and body language are a joy. The length was fine, and JJ loved it. Fun, silly, full of heart, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

It’s Show And Tell, Dexter! (Lindsay Ward)

Hello, friends! Our book today is It’s Show And Tell, Dexter! by Lindsay Ward, the adorable second installment of the Dexter T. Rexter series.

Dexter T. Rexter, a dinosaur toy, is back with a new challenge to face. His owner, Jack, is having show-and-tell at school, and he’s going to bring his very favorite toy: Dexter, of course! Dexter is so excited, and he’s been preparing for weeks. However, he’s also pretty nervous: will the kids like him? What outfit should he wear? Should he try to wow everyone? Will he make Jack proud? Dexter works himself into a frenzy over his worries, but the reader offers a suggestion: instead of trying to impress Jack’s classmates with costumes or flashy tricks, what if Dexter just went as… himself?

Wonderful! This was a story with a lot of comedy, yet had a very encouraging message for little ones who also may be feeling nervous about their first day of school. Dexter’s histrionics are presented in laughably dramatic text that is a blast to read aloud and act out – JJ was screeching with laughter by the time we got to “TOTAL FREAKOUT!”. But the message that being yourself is always the best way to face new experiences is the best part, and brought the plot full-circle beautifully. The art is bright, colorful, and full of energy, and JJ loved seeing Dexter’s antics. The length is great, and we both enjoyed this one a lot. A fantastic follow-up, yet stands on its own as a wonderful lesson in being oneself. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the author in exchange for an honest review.)